08 August 2010
Brambles Ripped my Flesh
My latest excuse for limited blogging.
Last year I posted the above photos and mentioned the particular joy of encountering a berry patch while hiking on a hot August afternoon. I'm not sure if these are blackberries or black raspberries, but I remembered the sweetness from last summer's visit and returned a couple days ago.
I discovered that hikers before me had harvested the easy pickings at the edge of the bramble patch, but I could see some recently-ripened clusters towards the center of this large area of canes, so I waded in. When I'm walking uneven ground I use trekking poles to maintain my balance, but the thorns on the canes kept grabbing my clothes, so I had to use the poles to push the canes back. That's why, when my right foot didn't reach the ground, I had no way to regain my balance and found myself falling... into the center of the bramble patch.
Those stories you hear about events "slowing down" at times of crisis may be true, because I can still remember my clear sequence of thoughts during those few seconds as I crashed to the ground. The choice was to put my left hand out to break the fall, or to use my forearm to deflect the canes and shield my face from the blackberry brambles. I chose the latter course.
Since I'm a polio survivor with some minor gait disturbance, I'm not unfamiliar with the process of falling down, and I'm quite a logical thinker by nature, so when I hit the ground I started thinking... no injury to the foot... within crawling distance of a trail that people will walk on tomorrow... food within reach... and then I saw why my foot hadn't reached the ground - an 8" high anthill! And I was lying right on top of it.
I can guarantee that my focus shifted from one of careful self-assessment to that of reattaining a vertical posture within a matter of milliseconds. The ants here in Wisconsin are not fire ants, but I've disturbed their sites in the past while intent on photography, and the last thing I needed at this point was to be swarmed. As I scrambled out to the trail, I could feel the blood dripping from my arm (literally), but there wasn't much to do other than blot it on my shirt. After getting home, I snapped a photo:
The next puzzle was how to get the minute thorns out of the skin, because I was getting an urticarial reaction to them. The problem wasn't the big thorns that rip one's clothes and skin - those were behind me; what I had now are the minute little things that look like bee stingers - hundreds of them. I finally decided to press duct tape and packing tape to my forearm and then peel it off. That removed most of them; the rest I just plucked out individually as best I could. I'm fine now. (For a while it was hard to blog because I couldn't rest my forearm on my desk.)
I've pondered what cosmic meaning this episode had - if any. Nature certainly does have a way of protecting her most precious (and tasty) resources. I suppose some would say this was my punishment for trying to take for myself fruit that properly belonged to the little birdies and rodents of the area, but I don't feel bad in that regard. Sweet berries are one of life's great pleasures. I was confronted with a huge temptation, and my response was pretty much the same as Eve's when she plucked that fruit in Eden.
And like Eve, I fell...